Director Andrew Haigh’s “45 Years” is a richly thought-provoking drama that is embellished by mesmerizing performances. “45 Years”, at many levels, reminded me of the subtle character study of Michael Haneke’s “Amour”.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Charlotte Rampling deftly plays the role of Kate Mercer, who lives with her husband Geoff (Tom Courtenay) in the Norfolk Broads in England. “45 Years” begins with Kate returning from a morning walk when a postman drops off a letter at her home. As Kate would’ve never expected, this letter’s content will strain her decades old relationship with Geoff. To top it all, the Mercers’ are going to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary in one week.

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What will happen over the week? Will Kate and Geoff be able to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary according to the plan?

ANALYSIS

“45 Years” doesn’t get to the point straight away. Instead, Haigh boils the narrative to test the frailty of almost 45 year old relationship, while simmering the viewers in heightened anticipation.

Nobody gets stuck in Mars in “45 Years”. The survival in the lush locales of Atlanta doesn’t come into play here, nor does the mauling of a grizzly bear. However, this #Film can’t be taken lightly, as it starts as a magnificently restrained piece of art-house #Cinema and ends up packing an emotional wallop that leaves your soul drained and dwindled.

The most expressive medium that Haigh utilizes throughout his film is Rampling’s face. Haigh allows Rampling to not just play the role of Kate Mercer, but also provide audiences with a heart-felt, sometimes merciless glimpse of aging.

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In return, Rampling’s Kate plumbs deep into the psychic realities of her character to grapple with a bitter truth that is going to turn her life upside down.

Rampling’s quietly explosive face creates a taut atmosphere of suspense, making the audience root for how it will detonate. Even though Geoff is the recipient of this mystery letter, but it’s Kate who suffers its reverberations. The internal transformation of Rampling on screen is a tour de force that should be celebrated. In “45 Years”, her performance as a woman of remarkably subtle nature is a triumph that no actress could achieve last year except Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn” and Cate Blanchett in “Carol”.

Courtenay is just as wonderful and vulnerable as Rampling. Though his character prominently comes into force towards the third act, but he gradually oozes into the skin of Geoff's character with ease.

“45 Years” is also a masterpiece in terms of its pacing, structure and tone — perfectly suiting the rhythm of the film. Director Haigh is at the finest moment of his career in this film.

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He knows how to texture the sequences to make all the on-goings give a spontaneous and deliberate look to the audiences. By the time “45 Years” reaches its climax, the viewers are sure that it is going to be inevitably poignant and utterly devastating.

FINAL WORD

In “45 Years”, Haigh has mounted a drama that is moving and unsettling, profoundly divine and deeply agonizing, magnificent and frightening.

It’s shattering to see a female protagonist grappling with the heart-breaking implications of a decision that she has made over the week. You’ll see a marriage live and die in this beautifully acted drama, like a butterfly impaled on a pin. Together, Rampling and Courtenay deliver a master class in expression, making us realize that the most unsettling of demons are the ones they were trying to deny.

It's a masterpiece.